Question: Who is
permitted to preach in a Catholic Church? Should the pulpit be used for
speeches apart from the liturgical functions of the Church? Does
improper use strip a church of its blessing or consecration?
Answer: According to the
1917 Code of Canon Law: “The responsibility of preaching the
Catholic Faith is entrusted chiefly to the Roman Pontiff for the Universal
Church, and to bishops in their dioceses” (c. 1327§1).
“Bishops are bound by the office of personally preaching the Gospel ... and
moreover, besides pastors, they should take help from other suitable men...”
(c. 1327§2). “The faculty of preaching should be granted only to
priests and deacons, but not to other clerics, except for reasonable cause, in
the judgment of the ordinary [the bishop], and in individual cases. All
laity are forbidden to preach in churches, even religious” (c. 1342 §1 and
§2). Religious order priests and deacons not assigned to parochial
structure of the diocese must have permission from their own superior to
preach in their own institutions, and from the local bishop if they are to
preach in the churches of the diocesan clergy.
By definition, a church is understood
to be a building, dedicated by its blessing or consecration to divine worship,
to be used by all of the faithful to carry out that worship (cf. c. 1161).
The term “house of God” is not used lightly. The space above or
below the church is not to be used for “merely profane uses” (c. 1164 §2)—a
fortiori, the space dedicated to divine worship must not be so used.
The space above, below, or adjacent may be used for purposes that relate to
the operation of the parish—e.g. meeting rooms, classrooms, parochial
offices, a library, and so forth. Outside of the times of divine
worship, necessity might allow the use of the knave of the church for purposes
like religious instruction, or the practice of music to be used in liturgical
services. Due respect must be given to the Blessed Sacrament, reserved
in the tabernacle.
The “knave” of the church
is shown in gray.
The sanctuary of the church (the area
around the altar, and marked off on its western side by the altar rail) is
generally restricted to members of the clergy, and those men or boys
functioning in place of the clergy as altar servers. It
would therefore be inappropriate to use the pulpit even for those activities
mentioned above that might be permitted in the knave. If the religion
teacher or choir director needs a lectern, one should be provided in the
The church and pulpit should not be
given over to purely secular purposes.
A church does not lose its blessing or
consecration due to secular use. If it is foreseen that the building
will eventually be given over to profane uses, it should not be consecrated or
blessed as a church. A church or cemetery is considered to have been
violated if any of the following four things are publicly known to have
happened within its walls: i. a murder or suicide. ii. the
grave and injurious shedding of blood. iii. impious or sordid use
of the place. iv. the burial of an infidel, or an person excommunicated
and under sentence. The cemetery may be violated without violating the
church, and vice versa (c. 1172 §1, §2). A violated church or cemetery
must be reconciled by an authorized priest, according to the rites of the
Church before divine worship is conducted once again (c. 1173-1177).
Question: A recent article in
the American Free Press (July 6, 2010, p. 4) suggested that something
called “Social Credit” is a Christian alternative to the Federal Reserve
System. What can you tell us about it?
Answer: The American
Free Press tends to be a “populist” newspaper, especially in Its
approach to economics. Economic populism generally tries to urge the
government to act on behalf of the average working class person, but doesn't
always take into account the effects on the entire economy, or the damage that
government intervention can cause, both, often, with adverse impact on the
But let us have a look at Social
Credit before we make any decisions. We will begin with a quote from
Oliver Heydorn, “Social Credit--a distributist reform of the financial
The single digits in square editorial brackets refer to comments that will be
The doctrine of Social Credit, first developed in the early part of the last
century by the Scottish Engineer C.H. Douglas, [1879-1952]
may be regarded as one such distributist alternative to the fractional
reserve system of money creation and distribution. The proposal consists of a
number of policies that are designed to work in tandem. In the first place,
 fractional reserve banking would be replaced by full reserve banking,
so that the banks could no longer produce most of a country's money supply for
personal gain.  Instead, a National Credit Office would be charged with the
responsibility of ensuring that the money supply is always equal to the
productive capacity of the economy, in such a way that purchasing power is
sufficient to liquidate supply. The new money that would be created by the NCO
would be regarded as a social service, hence the term "Social
Credit."  This means, in turn, that it would be introduced into the
economy debt and interest free. Some of this new money would be used to
finance government expenditure on health, education, infrastructure, defense
and so on (thus eliminating the need for taxes);  some of it would be
distributed to each citizen in the form of a social dividend that would
guarantee everyone a minimal revenue (thus eliminating destitution and the
more severe forms of poverty);  and some of it would be used to finance the
retail sector while lowering the prices of goods and services for consumers
(thus allowing for the recalibration of the whole system and the prevention of
 Fractional reserve banking
would be illegal, avoiding the inflation of the money supply as banks would
not be able to loan the same money repeatedly while keeping only a percentage
in reserve. No national debt would accrue as money comes into existence,
other than a general claim on the economy that its money would be redeemable
in goods and services.
 Social Credit views the
technological inheritance of society as a common inheritance from which all
men have a right to benefit: the wheel, the lever, the pulley, and so forth
are a sort of common property, from the use of which everyone deserves an
economic share. That is to say that everyone has a right to some share
in the profits of those who make use of this common patrimony.
Given this assumption, Social Credit
proposes to have the government (or some central authority) create money to
pay a dividend to the citizens for the use of the common technological
patrimony, and to provide for the needs of the nation
Social credit holds that the
consumption of a society ought to equal its production, and claims to see a
problem in that the wages, salaries, and dividends (called “Group A”
costs) paid out by a firm are never adequate to buy the entirety of that
firm's product. This is superficially correct, as the cost of the
product must include raw materials, rents, interest, and other overheads
(called “Group B” costs) in addition to what is paid out to employees.
The theory misses, first of all, that these “Group B” costs represent the
incomes of other firms which pay their employees wages, salaries, and
dividends that will be spent to consume the production of the firm in
question. It misses, as well, that the efforts of a successful business
create new wealth in the economy, more than enough to pay its “Group B”
costs. This new wealth is either paid out as wages, salaries, and
dividends, or is retained by the firm to finance its future growth.
Under Social Credit a non-governmental
guild or trade organization will direct payments of government created money
to rebate to the consumer the difference in retail prices caused by adding the
“Group B” costs to the “Group A” costs. Since this is not
actually necessary to insure full consumption, the economy would be inflated
by the amount of the “Group B” costs each time such an infusion of money
 If the government creates money
"debt and interest free" it, of course, is not borrowing from
bankers and bondholders who expect to be paid interest on their loans.
While this is a positive thing, it does nothing to restrain money creation and
expenditures which will consume the products of society. A fundamental
problem with the Federal Reserve system currently in use is that it is too
easy for government to obtain money without having to levy taxes--it can spend
money for foolish and dangerous things without increasing the tax bill,
thereby generating taxpayer resistance. Both Social Credit and the
Federal Reserve system give government too much latitude for reckless
spending. The Federal Reserve system, of course, piles up national debt,
but many Americans delude themselves to thinking of it as "a debt to
ourselves, which will never really have to be repaid." In this
connection, Social Credit makes more sense, but both alternatives could be
ruinous, as both inflate the money supply and consequently devalue the worth
of all dollar holdings, while permitting reckless government spending.
 A “social dividend” or payout
to each citizen is akin to putting everyone on welfare, whether they need it
or not. Programs like welfare and unemployment insurance already provide
for those in actual need. A universal dole is an incentive for all
people to be unproductive—why work if it is a citizen’s right to receive a
monthly check for doing nothing?
 The incentive to work would
be further decreased if consumption is subsidized along the lines of the
“Group A + Group B” theory described above. The social dividend
would go even farther toward keeping people idle if consumer prices were
reduced by sixty or seventy percent, to the “compensated price,” as
the theory might predict. And, increasing the amount of money in
circulation is inflation by definition.
Heydorn’s writing praises what is known as the “distributist” school of
economic thought. We have covered “distributism” in the past.
For them moment we can think of it as a return of society to the state where
each family produces most of its needs on its own plot of land, where the
state restricts industrial and retail chains, and where only a few articles
are chosen by the state for mass production. It is productive capacity
that is “distributed,” rather than wealth or income. Distributism
and social credit both seem to envision an homogenous and humble society in
which everyone produces enough on his plot of land to satisfy his wants.
Neither theory describes an engine of wealth and progress capable of lifting
sectors of society out of poverty or making gains against unsolved problems of
the human material condition—against sickness, famine, homelessness, or
natural disaster. Distributism requires government coercion (or
equivalent coercion by a guild or trade organization) to keep large scale
enterprises from forming.
Mr. Heydorn is naïve in assuming that
government coercion, bureaucracy and corruption will be eliminated under
Distributism, Social Credit, or any other contrived economic system:
According to Mr. [Thomas] Storck, the human person would be better served if
private property, especially productive property, were more widely and equally
distributed among economic agents. The bodies that would be largely
responsible for ensuring this more adequate distribution would be
non-governmental occupational groups or guilds.
Provided that distributism can incorporate a commitment to efficiency, to
beneficial economic growth and development, to a co-operative competition, as
well as to a just hierarchical society that would disallow any radical
egalitarianism, it may very well prove to be the answer to many of our
economic and social problems.
Mr. Storck is incorrect..
Redistribution of productive property will reduce society’s overall
production by reducing economies of scale and division of labor.
Property can be redistributed only through the coercive use of force, no
matter who exercises that force. “A commitment to efficiency, to
beneficial economic growth and development,” is precisely beyond the ability
of Distributism to make.
The idea that government can be used
to favor one economic class over another with beneficial effects is
fallacious. Social Credit is a populist idea, not libertarian, but
libertarian economist Murray Rothbard identified the same fallacy as it is
sometimes held by his followers:
Too many libertarians have absorbed the
negative and elitist conservative worldview to the effect that our enemy
today is the poor, who are robbing the rich; the blacks, who are robbing
the whites; or the masses, who are robbing heroes and businessmen. In
fact, it is the state that is robbing all classes, rich and poor,
black and white, worker and businessman alike; it is the state that is
ripping us all off; it is the state that is the common enemy of mankind.
No system that replaces the free
market with control by government or some other specially anointed power group
will succeed in doing anything other than “ripping us all off.”
Question: What is the
Portiuncula? The Portiuncula indulgence?
Answer: The Portiuncula
is the small church of Our Lady of the Angels, and the portion of land
given by the Benedictines to Saint Francis of Assisi about 1208 with the
proviso that he restore the building and make it the center of his new
religious order. Since this time it has been in the continuous care of
the Franciscans. It is where Saint Clare of Assisi was received as a
religious, and where Saint Francis died on 3 October 1226.
By order of Pope Saint Pius V,
the small church (22’x13½’) and the cell of Saint Francis were enclosed
in a far larger Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels. In 1909 Pope
Saint Pius X raised the Basilica to the rank of a “patriarchal basilica
and papal chapel.”
A plenary indulgence, the Portiuncula
indulgence, is said to have been granted by Pope Honorius III at the
direction of Our Lord in response to the request of Saint Francis.
Some hold this to be the first plenary indulgence granted by the Church.
While the historical details are a bit fuzzy, there is no question that the
Church fully sanctions the indulgence itself. At first the indulgence
could be gained only in the Portiuncula chapel between the afternoon of 1
August and sunset on 2 August. The locations in which the indulgence
could be gained were increased over the years, first to the other churches of
the Franciscans, later to churches designated by the local bishop, and
ultimately to all parish churches.
The current law regarding the
indulgence is found in the 1968 Enchiridion of Indulgences:
Visit to the Parochial Church
plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who devoutly visit the
the titular feast;
the 2nd of August, when the indulgence of the "Portiuncula"
indulgences can be acquired either on the day designated above or on some
other day designated by the Ordinary [bishop] for the benefit of the
same indulgences apply to the Cathedral church and, where there is one, to
a Co-Cathedral church, even if they are not parochial churches; they apply
to quasi-parochial churches also.
The above indulgences are contained in the Apostolic Constitution The Doctrine
of Indulgences, Norm 15, with account being taken at the same time of
proposals made to the Sacred Penitentiary in the meanwhile.
In visiting the
church, it is required, according to Norm 16 of the same Apostolic
Constitution, that "one Our Father and the Creed be recited."